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Profile: An Eclectic Kitchen with A Dark, Dramatic Side

Cutting edge design and a pioneering spirit transform this kitchen into a designer delight
   EKBB Magazine  |  written on: 29-08-2021 08:15am

It takes a brave vision to transcend the installation of a kitchen that is far less than what was promised. The initial story of this now chic kitchen is one we all fear, but designer Rachel Dower shows us that a homeowner’s idea of a kitchen as hub of the home is a dream worth chasing.

The upholstered cabinetry completes the elegance of the kitchen, providing a softer juxtaposition to the solid stone island

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- Owners/residents: Liza and Rudi Alexis, their four children; Tilly, 19, Hugo, 18, Theo, 16, Clara, 13 and their two dogs; Hera, the Great Dane and Apollo, the Retriever

- Designer: Rachel Gower, senior designer at Mowlem & Co

- Style: Contemporary, mid-century modern, eclectic

- Kitchen feature: A green and black streaked granite island is the glamourous focal point of this kitchen

Mowlem & Co, dark, green, minimalist, granite, bar stools, stool, island, brass, bronze, mirror, JEROME TABLE, handles, worktops, bar

Is it a bar, restaurant, kitchen, hang-out or storage space? Clever design means this modern kitchen can be all things to everyone in the family

After their previous designer went bust, homeowners Liza and Rudi Alexis had to live with a substandard kitchen, but Liza had pinpointed the focal point of the kitchen she wanted. “Sourcing the most exquisite granite was the whole basis for my kitchen. It all grew from that.” So, Liza asked a second company to make up her show stopping island. From there the family were faced with trying to find a designer who would embrace the challenge of part replacing and finishing a dream space within the parameters and boundaries already set.

Step up Rachel Dower from Mowlem & Co. “She interpreted whatk I wanted brilliantly – from the mirrors to the glamour, giving that grown-up feel.” The company had been looking into textile technology using an upholstered vinyl material created specifically for use in kitchens, and Liza was all for giving it a try. “It’s a really innovative idea for people like me who don’t like the standard. It’s so stunning yet so practical. I just wipe it down with a sponge.”

The kitchen completes the open, glass-backed room in an edgy, grown-up way, making it the ideal space to entertain and enjoy

Happily, the dream eventually became reality, and all because the Alexis family persevered in their belief in innovation enhancing beauty and individuality. “People see this beautiful kitchen and ask whether I actually cook in here, but I have four children and two dogs living here and we entertain all the time,” says Liza. “This kitchen works because the space is well-designed and functional with everything hidden away.”

Q & A – Rachel Gower, senior designer at Mowlem & Co

- Kitchens often reveal much about a homeowner; what message are you conveying with this design?
The Alexis’ home is on top of a hill in Wimbledon, with stunning views. The existing house is listed with an originally external staircase now coming within an amazing contemporary extension, so it’s very much a transitional space straddling the outside and inside, period and modern, family and adult, and domestic and entertaining ideas. The kitchen reflects that, along with Liza’s love of new ideas. Additionally, Liza is among a minority who don’t enjoy the aesthetic of a mainstream kitchen and look for something more eclectic. This embodies that trend.

The central, patinated mirror console bounces warm light across the accessories and collectables

- What were your challenges?
We’re unusual in that we were happy to take on half a project as most suppliers want to do the whole build. All the services had been done previously, so we had to work around where power, gas and water existed, but also to try and open it up, and make it all work and look right. We re-used some of the appliances and added others. The architect designed extraction grooves were already in situ, meaning our focus was on the re-wiring and getting the finish. It was quite a painful design process to get the lighting to work in the mirrored shelf troughs so that light washes up and down the patinated mirror splashback.

- What did you bring to the project?
Liza wanted the fittings to look more like furniture than kitchen units, and we had been creating prototypes of a new, fabric-wrapped door because upholstering for the kitchen is quite unusual. We’d been working with Phillip Jeffries, who’d approached us with a vinyl material that’s fabric for the kitchen. It’s fire-retardant, has all the appropriate kite marks, and is easy to clean. It was the perfect material in this instance.

Credit: Jake Fitzjones (Images), Kate Rowe (Words)
Published: As featured in EKBB Magazine, Issue 249, January 2017

Also read:
Profile: A Living Room Designed to Cook
Profile: A Master Bedroom with A Luxurious, Boutique Vibe

What do you like most about this kitchen? Tell us in the comments section below. 

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